Is it that many of us recognize a bit of ourselves in Linus’ longing to catch a glimpse of the Great Pumpkin in the Halloween classic “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” that keep us coming back year after year just to be disappointed all over again?
Perhaps you’re not feeling that introspective and just really like Peanuts cartoons, but The FW has a fascinating collection of little-known facts to enrich that twenty-five minutes of nostalgic bliss this time around, but, please, wait for the commercial break.
1. The original ‘Great Pumpkin’ story was actually about religion
‘Peanuts’ creator Charles Schulz’s faith and beliefs often served as a launching point for his comic strip story lines and specials. A Halloween special might not seem like the ideal place for a message about personal beliefs but even The Great Pumpkin had something to say about faith and religion.
Schulz’s ‘Great Pumpkin’ story got its start in his comic strip before finding a permanent place in popular culture on television. According to the book ‘Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography,’ Schulz received a rare complaint letter from a reader asserting that the Great Pumpkin was “sacrilegious.” He wrote a response agreeing with her assessment. He felt that the concept of believing in Santa Claus was just as ridiculous and sacrilegious as the Great Pumpkin and that he was “trying to show this in the Great Pumpkin strips.”
2. The Halloween special came to life because CBS wanted another “blockbuster”
The massive success of the ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ special and its subsequent special ‘Charlie Brown’s All-Stars!’ gave animator Bill Melendez and director Lee Mendelson a lot of leeway with CBS to do another special. All they had to do was promise that it would be a “blockbuster.”
Mendelson wrote in his book ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: The Making of a Television Classic’ that CBS network executives wanted another ‘Peanuts’ special but they also wanted a surefire hit. They didn’t just want something they could air once a year. They wanted something they could air year after year to bigger and bigger audiences. Mendelson and Melendez had to promise their third special would be a “blockbuster,” even though they had no idea on the table for another ‘Peanuts’ special.
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